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Easter weekend could see the most dangerous weather outbreak yet this season

States across the South brace for severe weather
States across the South brace for severe weather 00:30

The most dangerous severe weather outbreak of the season is possible this weekend, especially on Easter Sunday in the southeastern United States. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Storm Prediction Center is warning of long-lasting supercell thunderstorms and strong tornadoes in Texas and the southeastern states.

A vigorous storm that has been parked over Southern California for days is moving eastward Saturday. As it does, it will invigorate a strong subtropical jet stream over Texas and mix with unstable air from an abnormally warm Gulf of Mexico. 

The combination will make for potentially violent severe weather from Texas eastward into the Deep South. Scattered storms are expected to develop in Texas on Saturday and become more widespread during the afternoon and evening. 

Dallas, Abilene, Austin and surrounding areas should be on alert. The main threat will be large hail, but a couple of tornadoes in those areas are also possible.

Easter Sunday weather 

A second round of storms is expected to begin overnight Saturday in eastern Texas, powered by an intensifying jet stream with winds 100 mph or stronger. Storms will continue in eastern Texas before daybreak Sunday, moving into Louisiana early Sunday morning. Hail, damaging wind gusts and a few tornadoes are possible.

As Easter Sunday unfolds, energetic air will stream north from the Gulf of Mexico and spread over Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and the Florida Panhandle. Simultaneously, a storm in the Plain States will intensify rapidly and the jetstream will reach speeds of 150 mph.

By Sunday afternoon, multiple severe storms are expected to ignite, first near Alexandria and Shreveport in Louisiana, then moving east toward Jackson, Mississippi. By the later part of the afternoon and evening, they will move into Birmingham, Alabama, and Atlanta, Georgia. That is the bullseye zone, because the storms will be capable of producing long-lasting rotating supercell thunderstorms and strong tornadoes. 

The tornadoes may have winds in excess of 150 mph.

Residents in the bullseye area are being urged to monitor the situation closely. Officials ask that people living in mobile homes or unsecured structures consider heading to a shelter if a tornado warning is issued and there is time to reach it. 

Officials are warning, with the ongoing coronavirus crisis, it would be wise to find out which shelters are open and have a plan in place ahead of time. They recommend bringing personal protective equipment (PPE), like masks and gloves, for those who decide to go to shelters.

Sunday into Monday 

On Sunday evening, another round of severe weather is expected to break out in Arkansas, southeast Missouri, Tennessee and Kentucky. Strong tornadoes are possible in those states, and damaging wind gusts are expected to become a focus.

On Monday, the whole system will mature and plow toward the East Coast. A line of severe weather will be possible from northern Florida to New York City. Wind gusts that could be over 70 mph will be the biggest concern, and a few tornadoes are possible.

Snowfall expected 

On the cold side of the storm, a major snowfall is expected later Saturday into Sunday. The snow will move from Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska and South Dakota into Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Snow totals will be a general 4-8 inches, but expect a narrow band of 10 inches or more in Minnesota and Wisconsin, with 45 mph wind gusts and near-blizzard conditions.

Some cities in the path of significant snow will include Rapid City, South Dakota; Valentine, Nebraska; Sioux City, Iowa; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Eau Claire, Wisconsin; and Marquette Michigan. In Wisconsin and northern Michigan, over a foot of snow is expected in spots.

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